I turned on my cruise control so my itchy foot wouldn't end up getting me a speeding ticket. Cupcake was getting picked up today.
His owner, Stacey, was meeting me a 8:00 in the morning. She wanted to see him ridden and was planning on riding him herself. Since she had never bothered to come watch or ride the entire time I had him, I was a little nervous.
He had packed my daughter around once and had skittered a bit, but they had worked it out without any mishaps. Other than that, I was the only one to handle him.
As I pulled into the yard I saw Stacey standing with my boss Rainy in the upper arena. Stacey had Cupcake out and saddled with a roping saddle I hadn't seen before. She had her three-year-old boy sitting in the saddle.
I got out of the car and walked toward the group. My boss looked over at me, a little wild eyed, with a nervous smile on her face. Her renter was there too, her two kids screaming and fighting over who got to run a hot wheel up and down the road below the arena.
Cupcake stood quiet, with one hip cocked, and looked around at the chaos..
"You're here a little early I see," I said.
"I wanted to check him out for myself," Stacey answered, and giggled."I needed to know if my saddle fit him."
"I'm not really comfortable having the boy up there," I told her, "he's broke, but not that broke."
"He's fine," she told me,"Cupcake likes him. Boy, gelding him sure quieted him down."
"Training him helped some," I said.
"Oh, I know, I'm just talking about how sweet he is. Can he spin? How's his stop?" Stacey asked.
"He can turn around a few steps. He's not going to have a big stop, but he'll quit moving forward when you say Whoa," I said.
One of the renter kids came up the trail on the Big Wheel and started down the side of the arena. Cupcake arched his neck and snorted. I reached up and swung her boy to the ground before the colt swung his butt around so he could spook at the Big Wheel. The little boy scooted after the other two kids and started screaming too.
"We really can't let him ride until you sign a release for him," I told her, "and we do require anybody under 18 to wear a helmet."
She stared at me with a vacant, "I don't understand," look on her pretty face and said, "Well those rules don't apply for just sitting on a horse do they? Anyway,I already signed one."
"We need a release if you're even going to come in the pens or pastures, and the release was for you, not your whole family" I said. I pasted a big friendly smile on my face. "Did you ride him?"
"Oh no, I'd be too nervous, you ride him first."
"Oh, I'm sorry, I figured you must have tried him out, since you had your son up there," my smile got a little wider as I reached for good thoughts.
Rainy threw me a horrified look but didn't seem to feel the need to step up and help. I sighed and took Cupcake's lead from his owner. I walked him to the middle of the arena and stripped the saddle off of him.
"I'm not riding until the Big Wheel is put up," I told them and led him back into the barn to put my own rig on.I heard some angry complaints, some kid throwing a fit and car driving away. The renter had left.
I led him out by the roping saddle, mounted up and we rode off. We walked, trotted, loped, stopped and turned on the fence. We serpentined. We backed up. We turned on the forehand and walked the first few steps of a turn-around. We opened ans closed the arena gate and long trotted up and down the road.
I came back, dismounted, and put him back in the roping saddle. I walked around him and picked up each foot. I pulled on his tail and yanked on the saddle. I handed Stacey the reins.
She got on and started to walk around the arena.
"Did you put him on cattle?" she asked.
"I don't put horses on cattle at sixty days," I said. My smile came back.
"Hmmm." she answered.
She couldn't get him to lope. I walked her through it until she sorted things out, and relaxed as she tooled around on her horse. I couldn't help but feel a flash of satisfaction. She rode well, and Cupcake moved along easily. He picked up his leads and kept his shoulders up through the corners. There were a few steps of head tossing and panicky jumping when she stopped him by cranking on him without a warning, but they survived it. I told her to go ahead and stop him like a reiner and things smoothed out.
She dismounted with a grin and gave Cupcake a pat. "Well, I think he's just fine," she told me.
We visited politely for a few minutes and I loaded Cupcake in the trailer. He walked in and stayed calm while I tied him. I gave him a scratch on the withers and left.
The boss and I watched them drive out to the main road.
"I guess I'll get out the horses," I started towards the show barn.
"You sound awfully calm," the boss said.
"Wha...?," I stopped and looked back.
"I thought you were going to bite her," Rainy started to laugh.
"You kept baring your teeth at her, I could almost hear you snarl." She burst out laughing and went to grab some halters.
Two weeks later Rainy told me Cupcake had been run through the Calhan sale with the loose stock. Stacey decided she didn't have time to work a young horse. He sold for $125 to an unnamed buyer.